Bush Auctions Off National Forests

The Environment just became a major issue for the 2006 election. In an incredibly blatant bait and switch, Bush has inserted orders to the Forest Service to engage in the largest sale of federal land since Teddy Roosevelt established our national forest system.

Large Sale of Forest Planned: The White House wants to help pay for rural roads and schools by auctioning 300,000 acres of what it considers non-vital parcels.

The Bush administration Friday laid out plans to sell off more than $1 billion in public lands over the next decade, including 85,000 acres of national forest land in California.

Most of the proceeds would help pay for rural schools and roads, making up for a federal subsidy that has been eliminated from President Bush's 2007 budget.

Congress must approve the plans, which several experts said would amount to the largest land sale of its kind since President Theodore Roosevelt established the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 and created the modern national forest system.

"This is a fire sale of public lands. It is utterly unprecedented," said Char Miller, professor of environmental history at Trinity University in Houston, who has written extensively about the Forest Service. "It signals that the lands and the agency that manages them are in deep trouble. For the American public, it is an awful way to understand that it no longer controls its public land."

How transparent is this land grab of our precious national resources?

The Forest Service's proposed budget for 2007 is $4.1 billion, down about $160 million from 2006.

So we have to sell a billion dollars worth of national parks to make up a $160 million shortfall in the Forest Service budget?

But it's for the kids!

Rey added: "Education of rural schoolchildren, that's an investment in the nation's future as important as any other investment we could make. That purpose justifies the approach we're proposing.

So where does the money from selling off our national forests go?

In a companion proposal inserted into this week's massive 2007 budget, White House officials directed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to sell off at least $350 million worth of public land, with the money to go directly to the general treasury.

Am I missing something, or is there a really huge disconnect here? If the money goes into the general fund, then there is nothing except a rhetorical linkage between funding rural schools and selling off our national land.

Feinstein said that though funding of rural schools and roads should continue, it shouldn't be through the sale of public lands. Noting that California's rural counties received $69 million from the program, Feinstein said, "a stable funding source must be provided, but not at the expense of our wilderness."

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said continued funding for rural roads and schools should come from the general fund, not public land sales.

"The administration found billions to fund subsidies for energy company boondoggles, so I have trouble believing they couldn't find the money in this budget environment to maintain support for rural Oregon counties," he said in a statement.

Does the Democratic Party have the spine to stop this transparent ploy? I doubt it a lot. We shall see.

Tags: Bush, Environment, National Forests (all tags)

Comments

6 Comments

An Epiphany

I've been reflecting on why I am so certain that the Democratic Party will not stop Bush's massive land grab. I finally figured out something Karl Rove and Ralph Nader have both known for twenty years. For all intents and purposes we now have two Republican Parties.

Between the Blue Dogs and the DLC Dems, Karl Rove can structure nearly any piece of legislation so that it will pass Congress with bi-partisan support. This will be no different. There are enough DINOs like Cuellar, Lieberman and Casey who have infiltrated the Democratic Party that it is incapable of stopping any significant Republican legislative goal.

The sole exception to this rule has been Social Security. I can make a nearly inarguable case that without the concentrated and pugnacious effort of the blogosphere the Democratic Party would have even conceeded on destroying Social Security.

The Democratic Party is dead. Long live the corporate monopoly on political power!

by Gary Boatwright 2006-02-11 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush Auctions Off National Forests

Through unbridled wealth bondage, the neo-royalists have hijacked the academic machine and the corporate media machine. They have exploited these institutions to instill a rabid strain of paraphobia into the general public. So, the people are now completely blind to the existence of a vast neo-royalist conspiracy in their midst, hell-bent on disempowering them in every possible way. This public land grab is merely another blade in the back of the thoroughly disinformed, disempowered, former American citizens.

by blues 2006-02-11 08:09AM | 0 recs
Another Buddah Dollar Challenge

And chances are the Democrats will either help or lay down and play possum again.

Anybody want to take a Buddah Dollar Challenge that the Democrats can't stop Bush's land grab?

I've got $100 that says the Democrats get out the violins and cry and sob, but in the end don't do jack shit. If they can stop Bush's land grab, I'll donate $100 to the DSCC. If they don't  stop him, the $100 goes to Chuck Pennacchio.

Any takers?

by Gary Boatwright 2006-02-11 08:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Another Buddah Dollar Challenge

My Teoma search turned up the detail that Chuck Pennacchio is running in the Democratic Primary for United States Senate in Pennsylvania. I would contribute matching money were I not tapped out.

Please keep diary bombing us for the Buddah Dollar Challenge, Gary. It's lots better than pissing and moaning.

I hope I can sustain my diary bombing campaign for Electoral Voting Statements. Most of the folks who have been convinced they are "conservatives" are really unknowing progressives, and I would love to see them flip their short and sweet Electoral Voting Statements somewhere in the voting sites they visit during the '06 computer voting election hack.

Another little jab in the ass of the empire.

by blues 2006-02-11 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Bush Auctions Off National Forests

Kentucky's contribution is 4,500 acres of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Pure and simple, this is payback for developers and timber companies who made campaign contributions. Unfortunately, there are no shortage of local officials who will rationalize selling off our heritage for a few extra bucks in their budgets to pave roads at election time. Pretty friggin sad.      

Recommended.  

by Seldom Seen Smith 2006-02-11 05:02PM | 0 recs
California's Contribution

The scattered California parcels are part of a nationwide sales package slated to raise an estimated $800 million. Plucked throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains and from most of the state's 18 national forests

If Congress does accept the package, the land sold would be a small fraction of the 193 million acres owned by the Forest Service nationwide. In California, the agency owns 20 million acres; the proposed sale parcels would likewise only be a sliver of the state's total, and they are spread out.

"Virtually all of the forests in California are contributing," noted Matt Mathes, spokesman for the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest office.

by Gary Boatwright 2006-02-11 10:49PM | 0 recs

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